JCKC Sports

Sports: Kansas City and Abroad

KU Falls in Big XII Baseball Tournament 7-2

The Kansas Jayhawks fell to the Oklahoma Sooners 7-2 in the Big XII tournament championship on Sunday.  This was somewhat of a surprise considering the up and down season that the Jayhawks have experienced, not that KU lost to the Sooners, but that they made it to the championship at all!  The Jayhawks had lost their previous six games leading up to the tournament (three to Utah and four to Kansas State).

Although Kansas will not have a chance in the post season, their solid tournament performance left a good taste in everyone’s mouth.  The Jayhawks were not rewarded a bid into the 2013 NCAA Tournament; a bid that they would have obtained automatically if they would have pulled off the win on Sunday.  “I thought we did everything we could possibly do without winning today and earning an automatic berth,” Kansas’ coach Ritch Price said.  “You could make a really good case for us.  We walk in here, we win three games.  We beat Oklahoma State three out of four.  If you add up all the league records we have a better league record than they do, too, in conference.”

“At the same time it’s what you’ve done over the course of the entire season, as well. The thought that is hard for me is … if we only get three teams in the tournament out of this conference that is a really hard concept for me. The parity in this league is unbelievable.”

“One of the keys for us to be successful is not to get down 5-1,” Price said. “When we get that far behind, it is going to be hard for us to come back.”

“I thought the key to the game was their defense to be honest with you guys,” Price said. “We hit four or five balls right on the button. We were down 5-2 with runners at second and third and hit a line drive back to the box that the pitcher snared. That was the biggest play of the game. It would have been 5-4 and we would have still had a chance.”

“I definitely felt like we were in it the whole way,” Kansas left fielder Michael Suiter added. “That last inning kind of blew up on us a little bit. But I thought we had a great shot. Our team chemistry was really great coming off our sweep from Utah and we bounced back and had some good team wins.”

The KU run came to an end a game short of achieving a post-season bid.  Although having a strong tournament performance, the Kansas Jayhawks’ inconsistency during the season ultimately did them in.  The Sooners added two insurance runs in the ninth to seal the deal.        

 

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Royals: Third basemen don’t grow on trees

Ned Yost (Photo credit: zimbio.com)

Kansas City Royals‘ Manager Ned Yost made it pretty clear in his latest post game interview that third baseman do not grow on trees. Critics and fans are getting weary of Royals’ current third baseman Mike Moustakas‘ slow start to the season. And, although his numbers are awful to this point, Yost is not ready to due away with his young prospect(Ned Yost vows to remain patient with Mike Moustakas and others). Moustakas is batting only .176 with four long balls. Yost went on quite a rant about his situation at the third base position.

“You know what?” Yost said. “Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. … Obviously, third basemen who can hit and hit with power, they must grow on trees.

“They’ve got to. Like relief pitchers. And starting pitchers. Right fielders. Left fielders. First basemen. All of these guys must grow on trees, and you must be able to just go get another good one. A ripe one. Make sure it’s ripe.

“Those trees are at a hidden location but, obviously, they’re somewhere. Because that’s what everyone wants to do. Let’s just go pluck another one out of the tree. That’s the nonsense that really ticks me off.”

It’s safe to say the Royals are in quite a funk at the moment.

Why?

As every fan and analyst that has been watching Kansas City play for the past two weeks knows, when the Royals hit the ball well, their pitching is below average, when their pitching is beyond belief good, their bats put up one run (like the other night in Houston).

Now, after being swept by the Los Angeles Angels in a four game series, they get four more games against the best team in baseball right now, the Saint Louis Cardinals (Two at home and two on the road).

The real question at this point is not whether the Royals’ third baseman will turn the corner on his funk, but rather if the Royals will start winning games again. After starting the the season 17-10, the Royals are now 21-26 approaching the end of May. 

Freshman guard Jared Drew to transfer from Saint Louis

Jared Drew (Photo credit: bleacherreport.com)

Jared Drew sat out last season as a redshirt for the Saint Louis basketball squad.  However, instead of returning for his first year of eligibility, Drew was informed by his head Coach Jim Crews that his scholarship would not be renewed for the 2013-14 season.  He was told this just days before the semester ended.

Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star reported that Drew would not be allowed to return for his Freshman year.

“I was completely blindsided,” Drew said.  “I don’t believe they handled that situation as well as they could have.  [Crews] basically told me I’m not the right fit for what he’s trying to do.  I’m moving on, though.”

Although situations like this happen quite frequently, this one is a real bummer for Jared and for Saint Louis’ fans.  Drew was an all-state selection at Cathedral High School both his junior and senior year.  He will no doubt be a steal for a smaller school.  Ball State, IPFW, IUPUI, and Florida Atlantic have been mentioned by Drew in the Indianapolis Star.

This does not speak wonders about Coach Jim Crews’ ability to transform an athletic talent into a college basketball player.  When a coach redshirts a player, it is usually because he sees potential in that player going forward.  Since Jared Drew was recruited by Saint Louis, you would think that they would have seen potential in him and been able to bring his talent to the surface.  I am extremely disappointed in Coach Crews for not holding on to this young athlete.

Georgetown forward Brandon Bolden transfers to Kansas State

CollegeBasketballTalk

After appearing in only four regular season games and registering five minutes of playing time with no statistics, Georgetown forward Brandon Bolden has opted to transfer to Kansas State, the Wildcats announced on Friday.

The 6-10, 210-pound Bolden will sit out the upcoming 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining for Kansas State.

Bolden is the seventh signee for the Wildcats for the 2013-14 season and joins five freshmen — center Neville Fincher, small forward Wesley Iwundu and guards Marcus Foster, Jevon Thomas and Nigel Johnson — as well as Maine guard and fellow transfer Justin Edwards. Edwards — like Bolden — will also sit out the 2013-14 season.

“We are very excited to add Brandon to our program,” Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said. “With such a large incoming freshmen class, we really wanted to add a more experienced player…

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Andrew Wiggins to Kansas was the best option for college hoops fans

CollegeBasketballTalk

Last month, after Russ Smith, Doug McDermott and CJ Fair announced their intentions to return to school for their senior seasons, I penned a column about just how great the 2013-2014 college basketball season is shaping up to be.

You can read it here.

Everything that I wrote in that post remains true today with the exception of one nugget. Kentucky is going to be the best team in the country, once again, but they’ll be challenged for supremacy in the Commonwealth by a Louisville team with the talent to repeat as champs. Michigan State is going to be up there, as well, but Michigan and Ohio State have their sights sets on bringing home the Big Ten title. The new Big East should be awesome, especially with Dougie McBuckets back in the fold, while UConn and Memphis should have enough pieces to challenge Louisville in the AAC. Syracuse…

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Kansas acquires transfer Tarik Black from Memphis

After landing the consensus No. 1 recruit, Andrew Wiggins, I thought that the Jayhawks additions for the 2013-14 season were complete.  However, Kansas Coach Bill Self will not rest until every roster spot is filled.  The Jayhawks have added yet another big man to their already stacked squad. 

The former Memphis Tiger, Tarik Black, is a 6’9”, 245 pound power forward.  Black averaged 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for Memphis his junior season.  Tarik came out of high school with high expectations which he never met while at Memphis.  He hopes a change of scenery will suit him well going into his senior year.  Self has an increadible resume when it comes to transforming big men that come to KU.  

This is another huge win for the Kansas Jayhawks.  Tarik will be eligible to play immediately because he is a graduate-transfer.  He graduated with a degree in organizational leadership; Bill Self hopes he’ll put that degree to work immediately at KU.  Black will be one of the most experienced players at Kansas after the Jayhawks lost all five of their starters from the 2012-13 season.

“We received Tarik’s financial aid papers earlier today and we are thrilled he has chosen to play his final year of college basketball at KU,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.  “He will be a huge addition both physically and emotionally, especially from a leadership standpoint, as he will be the most experienced guy on our team entering next season.”  He continued, “Tarik has played in a ton of big games and certainly has had good experience at Memphis,” Coach Self said. “He’s used to winning and can help us in both of our big positions.  He can play the four and the five and we look forward to moving him around.  He’ll be an impact player that certainly changes the outlook of our team and makes us more versatile.”

Kansas will now have Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas, and Tarik Black all at the power forward position (Traylor can also play small forward).  KU will not be lacking any big men in the 2013-14 season.  But, let’s not forget the Jayhawks’ guards; that includes junior point guard Naadir Tharp and a bevy of athletic recruits.

Taking all of these things into account, this has not been too bad of a week for Coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks.  All jokes aside, KU fans cannot wait until Midnight Madness to see what this extremely athletic squad is made of.  Tarik Black will have an opportunity to start if Joel Embiid is not yet ready.  Former center Jeff Withey also transferred to Kansas and improved greatly.  Tarik hopes that the same improvements will happen for him at the University of Kansas.

Tarik Black (Photo credit: theshiver.com)

Deuce Bello to Transfer to Misssouri

Logo for the University of Missouri

Logo for the University of Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deuce Bello, formerly ranked number 54 in the country during high school by Rivals.com, will be transferring to the University of Missouri.  The 6’4” guard played two seasons with Baylor.  He’s 187 pounds and mostly was used for defense by coach Scott Drew at Baylor.

Although being extremely athletic, Deuce Bello averaged just 2.8 points per game and saw limited playing time, averaging only 10.9 minutes.  We will see how coach Frank Haith uses his latest transfer.  Unfortunately, Bello will have to sit out the 2013-14 season due to transfer rules. 

“I just feel like the coaching staff is good, and I’ve been cool with (associate coach) Tim (Fuller) for a while,” Bello added.  “At Baylor, we played Mizzou three times and I like their style of play.  They get up and down the floor and press.  Plus I’ve been on the campus so I know what it’s like.”  The Baylor Bears played MU twice during the regular season and once in the Big XII tournament during Bello’s freshman year at Baylor; they lost all three times to Mizzou.

“I just felt like another place would be better for me,” Bello went on.  “I wasn’t getting the time I wanted.”

Deuce Bello will probably never be a star player at Mizzou.  He contributes mostly defensively and has a decently weak jump shot.  I give Frank Haith a “C-” for adding this prospect. This is not because I do not believe Deuce can be a solid player, but more because I do not believe him to be a difference maker. 

Deuce Bello (Photo credit: bluedevilnation.net)

Deuce Bello (Photo credit: bluedevilnation.net)

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Deuce Bello (Photo Credit: bluedevilnation.net)

more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/20/4245546/deuce-bello-will-transfer-from.html#storylink=cpy

Ben McLemore Speaks Out About Payments to His Former AAU Coach

Ben McLemore announced soon after the season that he would be leaving the University of Kansas and taking his talents to the National Basketball Association.  This was no surprise, seeing that McLemore is likely to be picked either first or second in the draft.  What was a surprise was that McLemore’s former AAU basketball coach was paid $10,000 to steer Ben McLemore to the NBA.

This controversy has McLemore depressed to say the least.  He spoke out recently to Sports Illustrated and Campusinsiders.com saying, “I hope it don’t affect Kansas because there’s so much tradition there,” McLemore went on. “I don’t want to be one of those guys that can’t be allowed to come back.”

“My reaction was like, ‘Wow,’” he said. “That was someone that I could trust, and I put a person in my circle that I felt comfortable with and I know a long time that I wanted to help me through this process (of choosing an agent). And for him to say the things he did and put that out there like that, I wish it wasn’t true … (Former AAU Coach) put me in jeopardy and my family in jeopardy.”

As a big fan of the former KU guard, I hope McLemore succeeds on the next level.  I would love to say that I thought McLemore would not be affected by this recent dilemma, however, no matter how mentally tough he is, he will not shake this one off for a while.  Hopefully, this will all be resolved soon, and Ben can began to focus on his NBA career. 

No Run Support for James Shields

James-Shields-Dennis-WierzbickiLast night the Royals began their three game road series with the Oakland A’s.  Despite having yet another spectacular outing from Kansas City’s ace, James Shields, the Royals lost 2-1 and handed Shields his fourth loss. The run support for James Shields has been weak all season.

With an ERA of 2.45, it would not be unbelievable if he had not yet recorded a loss.  The Royals have failed to score runs while their ace has been on the bump.  KC has recorded only nine runs in the starts that Shields has reached the eighth inning.

Shields cannot be enjoying repetitively pitching great and still winding up with the “L.” And, you have to wonder, if he will look to leave Kansas City if his numbers do not improve.

The Royals’ bats looked much improved last series against the Los Angeles Angels, however, their roller coaster hitting continued last night as they failed to put up more than a single run.  To add insult to injury, David Lough recorded the only RBI in the game.  Lough was just brought up from Triple-A on Friday to replace a hurt Jarrod Dyson, and this was his first start this season in the “big leagues.”

It would look as if I blew another prediction.  I thought the the Royals’ hitting was on the verge of heating up as expressed in Royals’ Bats Began to Heat Up.  I was wrong.  The batting ups and downs continue and the “James Shields jinx” is alive and well.

Royals’ Bats Began to Heat Up

Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Kansas City Royals, with the exception of Alex Gordon, have had a roller coaster season at the dish. The Royals have been consistently inconsistent all year at the plate, but with recent lineup changes, they seem to finally be making progress in the batter’s box. Inserting Jarrod Dyson and Eliot Johnson proved effective as the Royals defeated the Angels 9-5 Wednesday night that included a seven run third inning. Patience at the plate also helped the hitters find the right pitch or take walks.

The 2013 Royals are nearing a milestone that has not been achieved in a decade.  The Royals have not completed the month of June above .500 in ten years.  Although having a bevy of great starts during that time period, they always seemed to collapse as the season got old.  One thing is for certain, this Royals team is better than all of the teams that came before it in the last ten years.  Without a doubt, the pitching is better across the board.  Starters and relievers are dealing much stronger.  Royals’ base running has been awful in past seasons, however, this year, they are running aggressively on the base path and not being thrown out.  But, will the Royals’ hitting stand the test of time?  Although beating up the slumping Los Angeles Angels’ pitchers last series, only time will tell whether Kansas City will continue to hit consistently.

The recent injury to center fielder Jarrod Dyson might slow the Royals’ hitting down.  Dyson had been give them good time, playing in eight of the past nine games.  The center fielder sprained his right ankle attempting to rob Mike Trout of a home run.  Dyson came nowhere close to catching the ball and has been moved to the 15-day disabled list.  David Lough has been brought up from Triple-A to replace Jarrod Dyson.  We’ll see how he fares on the next level.  Lough played briefly in the majors last season for the Royals, hitting .237 in twenty games.  He is batting .340 in the minors with three triples and three home runs.

Even with the loss of Jarrod Dyson, I expect the Royals to continue their hot hitting going into tonight’s game against the Oakland Athletics.  With Alex Gordon continuously pounding the ball and Billy Butler beginning to improve his consistency, I am optimistic about this series with the A’s.  As the Kansas City players have been saying all year, they are confident in any pitcher they put on the hill.  But, you have to be confident when your ace, James Shields, is pitching.